Humble. Expressing humanity. Encouraging. Respectful. Engaged. Committed. Active listeners. Pragmatic. Challenging. Honest.

These are some of the qualities that define the mentors in our 200+ network of Silicon Valley executive volunteers, the individuals that enable us at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship to deliver our mission of supporting social entrepreneurs in accelerating entrepreneurship to end global poverty and protect the planet.

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As important as it is for us to identify mentors who have decades of experience as CEOs, managing directors, entrepreneurs, investors, managers, and functional and technical experts, we look for the soft-skills that enable a smart and knowledgeable business woman or man to accompany a social entrepreneur through a GSBI accelerator program, and over those months and weekly calls, become their trusted advisor.

Many mentors are founders of successful startups, venture capitalists, or executives at Fortune 500 companies. All are chosen for their experience in startup enterprises and/or profit and loss (P&L) responsibility in larger organizations. They are successful business executives with decades of experience and connections who leverage their considerable professional skills and talents to aid GSBI social entrepreneurs by volunteering their time in a structured and meaningful way. And importantly, they are committed to the success of their mentee and apply their knowledge towards helping social entrepreneurs find the answers to the questions keeping them awake at night. They live by the adage, “You give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”

The GSBI chooses mentors who, through their education, background and experience, have knowledge of the fundamentals of business planning and experience with the challenges of executing on those plans by building teams, raising funds, and getting products and services to market. While not necessarily experienced in base-of-pyramid (BOP) or emerging markets, mentors have experience in international business environments, recognizing the challenges of working in a variety of cultural, legal, and market environments.

Mentors work with their social entrepreneur through a structured curriculum, a combination that is catalytic. An integrated and systematic approach allows for program participants and their mentors to customize, supplement, and adjust the program to the organization’s needs across five crucial areas: impact model, business model, scalable operations, financing and investment readiness, and a plan for growth.

Learn more about what mentorship means to us from some of our veteran mentors in this video. If you are interested in exploring a mentoring opportunity with us, and accompanying social entrepreneurs to help more people, please register your interest by filling out a short form found online below.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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Cassandra Staff is the Chief Operating Officer for at Santa Clara University's Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. She is responsible for the success of various Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) accelerator programs as well as program support functions and systems that support Miller Center operations. 

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Lynne Anderson is the Mentor Network Director at Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. She is an Environmental and Business sustainability management professional with expertise in project management and strategic environmental analysis, sustainability, compliance, and accounting. She has extensive and broad-based industry experience in aerospace, steel, auto, electronics manufacturing, and medical sciences, and is equipped with excellent team building, mediation, and executive presentation skills. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and Haas School of Business.